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May 19, 2005

David Holtgrave to Lead Health, Behavior and Society Department

David Holtgrave, PhD, a nationally recognized leader in HIV prevention and social science, will chair the new Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Established in May 2003 with a $20 million gift from a donor who wished to remain unnamed, the department is unique in its approach to identifying, understanding and preventing the human behaviors that are the root cause of nearly half of all illness and premature deaths in the United States.

The new department will focus on research to test ways to improve healthy behaviors, and will focus especially on how multi-level interventions—from national legislation to individualized behavioral counseling education—work together to improve health. For example, smoking was dramatically reduced in the United States when education programs were combined with higher taxes on cigarettes and regulations restricting smoking in public buildings.

The new department will draw upon the Bloomberg School’s strengths in the social and behavioral sciences, communications, marketing, economics and other core public health tools to establish a multidisciplinary research program of health-related behaviors, develop health interventions and create graduate programs to train new leaders in the field.

David Holtgrave, PhD

David Holtgrave, PhD

“David Holtgrave brings a wealth of scholarly and practical experience. He has an outstanding reputation for working collegially to develop a forward-looking vision and collectively marshalling the resources to drive it to fruition,” said Alfred Sommer, MD, MHS, dean of the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Dr. Holtgrave comes to the Bloomberg School from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University where he is professor and vice-chair of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education and professor of Health Policy and Management. There, he also serves as director of the Behavioral & Social Science Core of the Center for AIDS Research. In 2005, the Rollins School of Public Health named him Professor of the Year.

Prior to joining the faculty at Emory, Dr. Holtgrave oversaw HIV/AIDS services in the United States as director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention: Intervention Research and Support in the National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 1997 to 2001. From 1991 until 1995, he worked at the CDC developing HIV prevention programs and researching the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a variety of HIV prevention interventions. Dr. Holtgrave also served as associate professor and associate director at the Center for AIDS Intervention Research at the Medical College of Wisconsin. He worked extensively on HIV prevention community planning and served as a member of the Wisconsin HIV Prevention Community Planning group. He edited The Handbook of Economic Evaluation for HIV Prevention Programs and is the author or co-author of 150 professional publications.

Dr. Holtgrave received his doctoral degree in quantitative psychology in 1988 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at Harvard University.

“With the establishment of the Department of Health, Behavior and Society, we have an historic opportunity to generate scientific findings and train future public health leaders with the real potential to change behavioral and social aspects of public health for decades to come,” said Dr. Holtgrave.

Public Affairs media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons or Kenna Lowe at 410-955-6878 or